Case Open

Did attorney Steve Davis commit suicide, or was he beaten to death by Comanche County sheriff’s deputies? We may never know the truth.

ON THE NIGHT OF NOVEMBER 22, 1995—Thanksgiving Eve—Sergeant Mark Bergmark and reserve officer James Purcell of the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department had nothing more pressing to do than drive around Lake Proctor, a meandering body of water on the Leon River eighty miles southwest of Fort Worth. Purcell was new on the job, and Bergmark wanted him to be familiar with the roads on which he’d most likely encounter drunk drivers. Sure enough, at about nine, the deputies noticed a pickup truck roll through a stop sign on FM 2861, pull onto Texas Highway 16, and begin to weave erratically. Bergmark flipped on his flashing lights and pulled the truck over. Behind the wheel was a 38-year-old local, Steve Davis.

That brief opening incident in the Steve Davis story is beyond dispute; little else is. To ask what happened later that night and in the ensuing weeks and months is to lift the lid on a Texas version of Rashomon that continues to baffle area residents and torture Davis’ friends and relatives, even though his  family recently reached an out-of-court settlement with Comanche County.

Bergmark recognized the handsome curly-haired man who got out of his truck that night: He had arrested

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